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Kenya bets big on Export Diversification

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The Kenyan Government, through the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Cooperatives, reaffirmed its commitment to diversify its export portfolio.

The move is aimed at leveraging the country’s global industrial competitiveness, and augmenting its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) – key to the realisation of Kenya’s development agenda.

Speaking at the 7th Global Commodities Forum held in Nairobi, Cabinet Secretary for Industry, Trade and Cooperatives, Adan Mohamed said that the expansion of Kenya’s export portfolio is central to accessing foreign markets for trade and investment.

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“Kenya has been proactive as it seeks to create an inclusive business environment for trade expansion and local production capacity building. Examples of this include; the implementations of new laws like the Company and Insolvency Act in 2015 to promote business development, the extension of AGOA treaty to increase our trade capacity and instalment of Special Economic Zones to encourage foreign direct investment and create new job opportunities,” said CS Mohamed.

He  added that Kenya, like a majority of developing countries, relies heavily on income generated from commodity exports. With this in mind, it is prudent to expand its market – beyond agricultural commodity production and invest more on alternative industries like textile and apparel, leather, iron, ICT among others, as we take advantage of price booms in the global market and access to multiple trade opportunities. “This focus shift will result in immediate short term economic gains and long-term market stability for Kenya,” said the Cabinet Secretary.

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The changing landscape in export diversification was a key area of discussion at the 2016 Global Commodities Forum, hosted in Kenya for the second time, with the first held in 1976. The Forum a prelude to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD 14) set to begin on Monday will run co-currently with the World Investment Forum. (WIF) and bring together representatives from national governments, businesses, international organizations, as well as experts from the private sector, civil society and academia.

“We are excited and honored to host UNCTAD and by extension GCF and WIF. These consultative platforms bring together leaders in the business and investment sectors from around the world. Kenya and other developing countries will gain first-hand experience on proven policies and procedures to leverage their resource-rich economies to generate wealth and create jobs for Kenyans,” added the CS.

He revealed that Kenya is part of the global economy that has to evaluate the global commodities landscape – crucial in assisting emerging economies withstand commodity price fluctuations and search for better solutions to the problems facing the commodities exchange markets.

He noted that for emerging economies to realize a consistent growth curve as well as sustainable development, concerted efforts must be forged across multi-stakeholders, particularly the reinforcement of Public and Private Sector Partnerships.

The 7th edition of the Forum gathered over 400 multi-sectorial representatives from around the world. Under the theme, Breaking the Chains of Commodity Dependence, participants discussed how commodity-dependent developing countries can adapt to the twin shocks of lower commodities prices and shrinking demand from emerging economies, so as to realize their national objectives and the 2030 Agenda.

The Forum was the first major United Nations function following the adoption of the 2030 sustainable agenda for sustainable Development and Paris Agreement within the framework of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. It was also instrumental in assisting the government efforts to actualize its long-term plans under the country’s vision 2030 strategy to create a robust and diverse economy.

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